November has been extremely busy. In a great way. I was, unfortunately, unable to celebrate Halloween this year and there is a great big gaping hole in my heart because of this. Best. Holiday. Ever.
On Halloween a group of Canadian volunteers from the Hearts and Hands Foundation arrived in Uspantan. They spent the week building eco-friendly stoves in 3 villages of Uspantan. Three other Peace Corps volunteers and I served as translators for the group as only 2 of the 25 volunteers spoke Spanish. Going back and forth between English and Spanish all day is pretty exhausting but it was great practice. And now I know how to build stoves! Life lessons!
Some of the work from the week:
After (The family and our team: the Canadian Volunteers, Don Nataniel, a local leader in the village we were working, and Pablo a technician from the Muni)
Children coloring pictures of the eco-friendly stoves
Helper (JK- SAFETY HAZZARD)
Proud owners of a new stove. Note the black ceiling. The lady of the house had been cooking over an open fire for 25 years. Materials were dropped off with the families the week before we arrived and her son carried each piece of the stove from the road down the mountain to the house. The house is only reachable by foot.
On November 1st we took a break from work to celebrate Todos Santos (All Saints Day). I went to the cemetary to eat lunch with a family that the Peace Corps volunteers are close with here in town. It's a beautiful and colorful tradition.
Remains of a Mayan ceremony (note the mix of Mayan and Catholic tradition).
I spent the following week at a Reconnect conference at the Peace Corps Center in Santa Lucia (near the capital). Everyone from my training group got back together for this. It was chance to review our first months in site and develop our work plans for the coming months leading up to In Service Training. The last few days of the week I spent in K'iche' classes. I am now on the hunt for a forml teacher here in Uspantan.
Finally, my program director came out to Uspantan to visit this week. We went out to the communities where I am working in the Zona Reyna. We did a full tour of the region, visiting the health posts and 24-hour health centers and meeting with the teams of nurses and educators that I work with out there. He also sat in on a couple of my workshops with my health promoter groups. Lucky for me one of the groups is one of my stellar promoter groups- participatory and energentic. I have found that the most receptive communities to my program are the most remote. It makes sense. When very few resources are offered, there is apparent enthusiasm to take advantage of any opportunities available. The enthusiasm also encourages me to make the treck every month (5 hours in car on the worst road ever!).
Getting the workshop started
Working with the educators from the hospital (I'm so huge in this country)
A nurse from the health post translating into Q'eqch'i
Some of the promoters presenting to the group.
Ending with an activity.
Now I have the Thanksgiving weekend to look forward to. My site mate, Hilary, and I will be heading out to the Eastern coast to chill out on the beach for the holiday. Finally, my first vacation since I got to Guatemala! While it can't beat Thanksgiving in Ohio with the family I'm pretty sure I will be able to enjoy myself...especially if I get to swap out turkey for margaritas.